The rainy season expected to continue

Widespread moderate to very heavy rains are expected to continue through much of the region next week, according to a regional forecast issued this week.

The forecasters in a report released by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWNET), warn that the rains are expected to come with associated risk of flooding in Kenya, eastern Uganda, rift valley regions of Ethiopia and southern Somalia.

It says during the next seven days, heavy rainfall is forecast over much of Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and southern and central Somalia.

During the second half of the forecast period, rainfall is expected to become less widespread and will be concentrated over southwestern and eastern Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, coastal Kenya, and northern and coast.

The report says rainfall has been above average over broad areas of Somalia, eastern and southern Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi.  It observes that initial satellite-derived estimates suggest rainfall since late March has been as much as 200 percent of average across many areas.

The observers say favorable seasonal performance over the past 30 days has contributed to a continuation of timely and well-distributed rains that had already resulted in seasonal rainfall surpluses across much of the region.

“Overall, seasonal rainfall totals in excess of 150 percent of average have been observed across much of the region, though poor performance has been observed in parts of northern Ethiopia.” it said.

In the short-term, forecasts suggest heavy rainfall is likely to continue over the next week in much of the region, which should further strengthen rainfall surpluses in many areas, and may reduce rainfall deficits in parts of northern Ethiopia.

The forecast adds, rainfall is expected to continue in early May but become relatively less widespread and will be concentrated over southwestern and eastern Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Burundi, coastal, central and western Kenya, and northern and coastal Tanzania.

In Uganda, the forecast says following a timely onset of seasonal rainfall in March, cumulative rainfall totals are above average.  It says during the past 30 days, rainfall has been near average through much of the country.

 

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UPDF should stop lying to Ugandans on Somali troop deaths :Gilbert Oulanya

By Edwin Muhumuza

The recent information from the UPDF Spokesman ,Brig Karemire Richard, that only four UPDF Soldiers were killed in Somalia has raised suspicion , as to what extent  the nation should trust information coming from his desk.

President Yoweri Museveni has revealed that eight soldiers died following an al-shabaab attack in Somalia on Easter Sunday contradicting what the UPDF spokesperson Brigadier Richard Karemire had said .

Now Kilak county MP Gilbert Oulanya says it is not worth a penny in hiding true figures of soldiers who were killed owing to the fact that Ugandans will count the bodies as they arrive at the airport.

Oulanya who is also the Shadow minister of defense and security, has called for the gradual withdrawal of UPDF soldiers from Somalia  saying government should begin reconsidering handing over Somali security to Somalis and cannot continue sacrificing amid challenges, notwithstanding the refusal by the African Union to compensate Uganda for the loss of its military helicopters  among other losses.

Museveni says only 8 soldiers were killed in Somalia attack on AMISOM base

President Yoweri Museveni has revealed that eight Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers died following an Alshabab attack in Somalia on Easter Sunday.

The revelation contradicts what the UPDF Spokesperson Brigadier Richard Karemire had said that four soldiers had died in a statement issued on Sunday evening.

The president explained that two vehicles of the enemy force entered one of the three sites attacked. “One vehicle was detonated and killed eight of our soldiers. May their souls rest in eternal peace. I extend condolences to their families.”

The President, using his official Twitter handle @KagutaMuseveni, also said the UPDF had killed 36 al-shabaab militants contrary to the 22 stated by the UPDF spokesperson in Kampala and 30 as stated by the UPDF spokesperson in Somalia, Ceaser Olweny.

The Alshabab raided the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) base at Quoryole, Bulomareer and Golwein in Lower Shabelle region in Somalia.

Buulo Mareer is located some 130 kilometres southwest of the capital Mogadishu.

Eight vehicles including two vehicle born improvised explosives were destroyed by AMISOM forces.

President Museveni praised the army for foiling what he called “the bold but adventurous strategy of Al-Shabaab.”  He said the AMISOM force was alert, the reason they managed to repulse the enemy.

“With constant vigilance, victory is assured. I congratulate our soldiers for the good work they did yesterday, the death of eight of our soldiers notwithstanding,” he said.

Called to comment on the statement by the President, Brigadier Richard Karemire said the additional deaths were from those who sustained injuries. He says by the time the army said four were dead they were four, but some who were injured have since died.

Karemire could not specify the day of the other deaths.

According to Karemire some soldiers had sustained injuries, but currently six UPDF soldiers remain injured, the same number he had given in the initial statement on Sunday evening, signed by his deputy, Lt Col Deo Akiiki.

Just like it happened with previous attacks, there has been conflicting figures on the number of dead and injured on both sides, with different media sources quoting different numbers.

The UK’s Guardian online reports that at least 46 UPDF soldiers were killed in double car bomb suicide attacks, quoting local officials in Mogadishu. The report quotes Abdi Nur Hashi, a Somali military colonel who also said one Somali soldier had died and several others were injured.

The New York Times and Reuters give a much high number of causality figures, with both saying 59 Amisom soldiers were killed in the attack.

The special representative of the chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Francisco Madeira in a press statement issued on April 2 says at least 30 al-shabaab militants were killed, while four soldiers of Amisom were killed and six sustained injuries.

Karemire had insisted that the number of soldiers he gave out was the correct one.

The situation is similar to the one after the July 30, 2017 attack when UPDF said it had lost 12 soldiers while the militants said it had killed 39 Ugandan soldiers.

In September 2015, al-shabaab militants carried out an attack at the Amisom base in Janaale district in Somalia with reports indicating that 50 AMISOM soldiers had died, while the Somali military said 37 soldiers died.

The UPDF disputed this through the then spokesperson Paddy Ankunda who tweeted that the estimates of more than 50 deaths were a fabrication, insisting later that only 10 Ugandan soldiers had been killed in Somalia.

Days later, however, President Museveni who was on a visit to Japan told the media that 19 Ugandan soldiers had been killed in the Janaale attack, adding that six others were in action.

Uganda was the first country to deploy in Somalia in 2007 and contributes the biggest contingent of the 22,000-strong Amisom force.

The African Union plans to scale down its force and gradually hand over security operations to the Somali national army by 2020.

 

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Legislators in Somalia vote president at an airport amidst tension

Somalia’s MPs are electing the country’s president in a heavily guarded aircraft hangar in Mogadishu, as the rest of the country is not safe.
Traffic has been banned, schools have been shut and a no-fly zone imposed over the capital to prevent attacks.

Despite this, suspected militant Islamists fired mortar rounds close to the venue on Tuesday night.
Somalia, marred by religious and clan conflict, has not had a one-person one-vote democratic election since 1969.
That vote was followed by a coup, dictatorship and conflict involving clan militias and Islamist extremists.

Somalia’s rocky road to democracy
The elections are part of a lengthy and complex process to help the East African state rebuild its democracy and achieve stability.
More than 20,000 African Union (AU) troops are stationed in Somalia to prevent militant Islamist group al-Shabab from overthrowing the weak government.
How safe is the airport?
The election hall, a converted aircraft hangar packed with MPs, is at the Mogadishu international airport complex.

It is viewed as the most secure site in Somalia, as the main AU base is there.
The vote was moved to the airport complex from a police academy because of growing fears that al-Shabab could strike.
The 2012 presidential vote was held at the academy, and the 2007 and 2004 vote in neighbouring Kenya and Djibouti respectively.
Who is running?
About 20 men ran for the presidency, but the number has been reduced to four after the first round of voting. The second round is under way, and the top two will battle it out in a third and final vote.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is standing for re-election and he has gone through to the second round.
At least 16 of the original candidates have dual citizenship – nine of them hold US passports, four UK passports and three Canadian passports, according to a leading Somali private radio station.

It means that if US President Donald Trump’s ban on Somali citizens entering the US comes into force again, some of them could be affected.
Many Somalis obtained dual nationality after fleeing the decades-long conflict. The US, UK, Kenya and South Africa are among countries where many Somalis have settled.

 

 

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Over 100 KDF soldiers feared dead following Al Shabaab attack on their base

Al Shabaab militants have overrun a Kenya Defence Force military base at Kulbiyow, Somalia.

Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, a spokesman for al Shabaab said its fighters killed at least 57 Kenyans at the base in the southern town of Kulbiyow, near the Kenyan border.

The spokesperson was quoted by both Reuters News Agency and the Star in Kenya saying that two mujahedeen rammed suicide car bombs into the base in Kulbiyow town before storming it.

We are pursuing the Kenyan soldiers who ran away into the woods,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, told Reuters about Friday’s attack. “After hand-to-hand fighting, we have taken over the base,” he is quoted.

But Kenyan military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Paul Njuguna dismissed the claim.

Today’s attack comes a year after Al Shabaab ambushed a Kenyan base at El Adde. According to soldiers who survived the attack then, Al Shabaab was armed with heavy and sophisticated weapons which gave KDF soldiers very little time to organize and return fire.

However, they say they fought for close to 10 hours with the militants before they were overpowered.  over 100 soldiers were lost in the battle.

 

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Gen Katumba asks Somalia to work on building their security apparatus

The Chief of Defence Forces General Edward Katumba Wamala wants Somali leaders to fast-track implementation of security sector reforms and the rebuilding of the national army.

He says this would enable them to effectively take over the country’s security from African Union troops. Gen Katumba made the statement upon his arrival in Mogadishu, Somalia on Monday, for a three-day official visit.

“As you interact politically with whoever will take the chair, this should be among their priority area; to make sure that they address the issue of building their security apparatus,” he told a meeting of senior officials from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

The Somali security sector reforms which are in line with AMISOM’s revised Concept of Operations (CONOPs) and its exit strategy are aimed at building the capacity of Somali National Security Forces to take over the security of the country, when AMISOM troops begin drawing down in 2018.

Gen Wamala praised the implementation of the quick-impact projects (QUIPs) by AMISOM, describing it is a big asset for the mission in its efforts to provide essential services to populations liberated from Al-Shabaab rule.

Lt. Gen. Osman Noor Soubagleh, the AMISOM Force Commander said AMISOM troops continue to jointly conduct offensive and defensive operations aimed at improving the security situation in Somalia.

“The security situation in Mogadishu city has improved significantly, the city being a strategic value for the seat of power, with a high population density, good infrastructure and good for political and economic activities. Therefore the center of gravity plays an important role for the stabilization of Somalia,” Lt. Gen. Soubagleh said.

Gen. Wamala also held a meeting with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Somalia, Michael Keating.

During the meeting, Lydia Wanyoto, the Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (DSRCC) updated Gen Wamala on the ongoing electoral process in the country and the security arrangements in place to ensure a smooth transition of power.

“We are doing everything it takes to ensure that we give the support and that our offices are open 24/7 for supporting the troops for which your country contributes,” Hon. Wanyoto stated.

Earlier, military officers from AMISOM Sector One, briefed Gen Wamala on the security situation in Lower Shabelle and Banaadir regions, which fall under the AMISOM Ugandan contingent’s area of responsibility.

 

 

 

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UPDF is considering pulling out of Somalia

By Alice Lubwama

The Uganda People’s Defense Force-UPDF   is considering pulling out its troops from Somalia after the European Union scrapped off their support by 20%.

The European Union which has been financing the UPDF Somalia will start deducting 200 dollars from every serving soldier on the foreign mission to cater for administrative issues.

The Chief of Defense Forces General Katumba Wamala has told members of on the Foreign Affairs Committee that they cannot continue operating in Somalia without enough funds.

Photo: hecarethforyou.blogspot.com

AMISOM to keep in Somalia for 10 more months

The United Nations Security Council has authorized the extension of the African Union Mission in Somalia- AMISOM for an additional 10 months, until 30 May 2017.

The decision follows the Secretary General’s recommendation that conditions in the Horn of Africa country would not be appropriate for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

The council mandated the African Union mission to take all measures, as appropriate; to reduce the threat posed by Al-Shabaab and other armed opposition groups and provide security to facilitate the political process at all levels, enabling the gradual handover of security responsibilities to Somalia’s security forces.

Council members stated that progress in degrading Al-Shabaab’s capacity to launch attacks, as well as improving the capacity of Somali forces to sustain control of recaptured areas, could enable a gradual reduction of AMISOM’s role in the country.

Under a unanimously adopted resolution, the council maintained AMISOM’s troop deployment at a maximum level of 22,126 troops.

Uganda remains the biggest contributor to AMISOM with the largest contingent of 6,223 troops. Burundi is the second-largest contributor to AMISOM, with 5,432 troops.

The council requested that the mission strengthens its presence in all capitals of Interim Regional Administrations in order to improve joint planning between military and civilian components in preparation for the electoral process in 2016.

AMISOM was also tasked to secure key supply routes, including to areas recovered from Al-Shabaab, in particular those essential to improving the humanitarian situation, and those critical for AMISOM’s logistical support.

The resolution also calls on the African Union to investigate and report allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, as well as continuing to ensure the highest standards of transparency, and conduct and discipline.

 

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Al-Shabaab to join top Somalia soccer league

In a surprise move that has shocked the sports fraternity in Somalia, the chairman of the country’s Football Federation (SFF), Abdiqani Said Arab, has extended an invitation to the Al-Shabaab militant group to join the country’s top soccer league, “should they desire to do so”.

“We are not against them and they are not against us,” Arab told the BBC in an interview. Arab is a respected sports figure on the continent. Early this month he was appointed vice chairman of the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa). And last Friday (Jan. 7) he was named African football leader of the year at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) awards that took place in Abuja, Nigeria, for his efforts to revive the game in Somalia.

The call to Al-Shabaab may be his way to communicate to the group that it can be a part of Somali society rather than “an enemy within”: “Not only Al-Shabaab, but also those fighting for the warlords, the moderate Islamists or anyone else involved in Somalia conflict is welcome to our football,” Shafi’i Mohyaddin Abokar, a spokesman for SFF, explained to Quartz.:“If they show interest in playing football it means they accept peace and football is all about peace and integration. So we are welcoming anyone who embraces peace and wants to play football.”

War-torn Somalia and its UN-backed government has been battling the al-Qaeda-affiliated group for almost a decade, with the help of African Union (AU) forces. While the Al-Shabaab group has been driven out of most of areas of the country it once controlled, the group still remains a threat by  periodically staging deadly attacks in the capital Mogadishu and neighboring countries.

But the AU force has helped the Somali government establish some semblance of stability. This increasing sense of security has created the space for cultural life to return—the re-establishment of the country’s football league being one example. The eight-team league saw one of its matches broadcast live on TV for the first time ever last month. And according to Arab, due to better security, foreign players are also flocking to Somalia to ply their trade in the country’s domestic league. “More than 20 foreign players are now playing in our Premier League in about six clubs,” Arab told the BBC.

Fadumo : Al-Shabaab what can you do?

Somalia has been torn by decades of conflict since the 1991 ouster of long-time dictator Siad Barre by warlords who then turned on each other. Somalia had transitional administrations from 2004 but it did not have a functioning central government until the 2012 election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

In the last three years the country has stabilized but there is still a lot of work to do, Nicholas Kay, the outgoing representative for the UN Secretary General in Somalia, told The Associated Press.

“The country in the past two-three years has come together quite significantly. It is both politically stable and developed as well,” he said.

Kay said the parliamentary and presidential elections that are set for 2016 will take place and he expects leaders to respect the constitutional term limit of four years after they made firm commitments to do so. Somali leaders are currently discussing how elections will be held.

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Among those standing for president is Fadumo Q. Dayib who has had her share of hardships but has perseverance against all odds. She was born in Kenya but was soon deported back to her native Somali due to her parents not having proper travel documents. According to the BBC, Dayib didn’t learn to read or write until age 14 but she recently received her Master’s degree in health care and public health from Harvard University.

The mother of four has already received death threats from the terrorist organization, Al-Shabaab but nothing can dissuade her from running.

“What can ‪‎Al-Shabaab do to a woman who has died 4 times? I died when I was born, I died when I was mutilated, I died on my wedding night and I died when I gave birth to my first child… I am not afraid of death. What can Al-Shabaab do to a woman who has died 4 times? I’d rather die for something I believe in, than live and be dead inside, because I don’t believe that a woman belongs either in a house or in a grave. That’s why I am running for President in 2016 in my country, ‪‎Somalia” she said in a speech given beginning of 2015.

This statement she posted in her Facebook page raise many concerns. But reading between the lines, her courageousness is an inspiration to all women!